Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Rapid Sputum Tests for Tuberculosis (TB)
Rapid sputum tests are used to diagnose tuberculosis (TB) when other tests show that a person probably has TB. Rapid sputum tests are also called nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAs).
One of the best ways to diagnose TB is through a sputum culture. A culture uses a sample of mucus from the lungs (sputum) that is placed under special conditions that allow TB bacteria to grow. If TB bacteria grow, then the person has tuberculosis. The test also can show if a lung infection is caused by some other kind of bacteria. But a sputum culture can take 1 to 8 weeks to provide results.
Rapid sputum tests can tell if a person has TB within 24 hours. A test may be done when:1
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Updated guidelines for the use of nucleic acid amplification tests in the diagnosis of tuberculosis. MMWR, 58(01): 7–10. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5801a3.htm?s_cid=mm5801a3_e.
April 15, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & R. Steven Tharratt, MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Genesis HealthCare System | 1-800-322-4762